Guest Author – Leila Singh
Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™
Anything is possible!
If you had been with me during the summer of the year 2000, you would have seen me sitting at my desk in a large open-plan office, writing out a pros and cons list of what I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy in my job, had a great manager and a good salary. And I had studied hard to gain my professional qualifications. Yet, I felt that I wanted more. Something was missing. Having carried out my due diligence, a couple of months later, you would find me sitting in a large meeting room, the goldfish bowl as we called it, because everyone could see in through the expanse of glass. Opposite me sat my manager, Peter.
“Recruitment??? But you have spent years working towards your accountancy career, and you are good at what you do, why would you throw that all away? Is it the money?”
“Not at all, in fact I am taking a 50% pay cut to do this…and I know it will work out…after all, what is the worst that can happen?”
A year or so later, sitting across from my Sales Director Steve, for my annual review, “Leila we took a risk on you, you had no relevant experience, and yet you have been our highest biller this year!”
Prior to this, I was the quiet diligent church mouse, who kept my head down and worked really hard; it was a manager during that time who had shared his advice “Leila, if you want to achieve your career aspirations, you need to make yourself known, so people that matter know who you are and what you do, and recognise your talents…”
I spent two years in recruitment – that time afforded me exponential personal and professional growth. It highlighted that 1) taking a risk and 2) taking myself so far outside my comfort zone, enabled me to realise what is possible, as well as my potential, strengths, and to cultivate the confidence and self-belief I had never had.
Following redundancy, I was offered an opportunity in a global technology firm; I jumped at it, as the company had a great reputation. The role? Nothing I had ever done before. Corporate Finance; designing and implementing change, negotiating multi-$M contracts with investment banks and lenders, as well as establishing and managing a significant financing portfolio across the EMEA region. My confidence, desire to win, willingness to take risks, ask questions and learn fast, held me in good stead. I built a strong network across the business and was influential in achieving results.
After six years, we were acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), where I was offered two opportunities; A Sales Executive or a Treasury Consultant role. I opted for the latter, as this complemented the previous role and enhanced my skills further. After 15 months, I transitioned to the Sales Executive role. During my tenure in this role of almost 10 years, I delivered a little shy of $1bn of business.
The Secret To Successful Career Changes.
You may be asking, what is my secret to successfully transitioning through different careers?
It comprises the following.
- Believing that I can achieve anything I put my mind to (someone once told me this, and it is so true).
- Going over and above in my delivery and performance at all levels, be that internal or external clients,
- Being resilient to the challenges I encountered and never giving up.
- Not being afraid to ask questions, whilst being a quick learner.
- Building strong professional relationships, whilst showing up authentically and showing a genuine interest in others.
- My desire to stand out and make a difference, and be a role model for others.
- Maintaining high standards consistently in all that I do
I am the Founder and CEO of my own business, where I coach, mentor and train ambitious career professionals to accelerate their career, through establishing their personal brand, resulting in greater visibility, impact, and performance.
Six years earlier, whilst still a sales executive, working no less than 60 hours a week, I began to immerse myself even further into my personal growth journey; I trained and qualified as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy. I went on to join a Professional Speakers Academy to refine my speaking and presentation skills; an academy for which I now mentor others. I became an Accredited Master Coach as well as an L&D Trainer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (yes, this was also alongside my job). I wrote and published my book, Success Redefined – How to Leverage Your Natural Talents to be Limitless” in 2015. I also did a board break with my hand, walked on hot coals and on broken glass. I attended various events and training sessions with Anthony Robbins. I invested heavily in myself – money, time, and energy, surrounding myself with the best coaches and mentors, to continue to learn and grow and to be able to show up for my clients as the best version of myself.
I chose to leave HPE at the end of 2018 and embark on this next chapter of my life. Yes it has been challenging, leaving behind my corporate identity, the structure, the salary and the corporate benefits of a large organisation, to live in a world of uncertainty, and yet it is a life of freedom, choice, risks, celebrations and massive personal growth.
Embracing A Growth Mindset.
Growth never stops; this is one of my core values, alongside [personal] leadership and authenticity. And I am proud to say that my biggest accomplishment to date is becoming a TEDx Speaker in 2019.
If you are thinking, “I want change, but…” consider this;
1. When I went through my first career transition, from accountant to recruitment consultant, having just given notice, within a matter of days, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and as a consequence, overnight had become paralysed from the waist down. What should I do? I could have very easily chosen to stay in the finance role, something that I knew and was settled in. Yet I went ahead with the transition, whilst for the first several months, supporting my mother in adapting to her newfound restricted and tragic situation, dealing with the emotions of the situation, and being her primary carer alongside my father.
2. On the same day my mother was diagnosed, I was due to move out of home, having purchased my first place, having simultaneously agreed to taking a 50% pay cut…I believed it would work itself out – and it did.
3. I spent sixteen years of my career in the technology sector, as a woman of colour, in a male dominated environment. I did not experience imposter syndrome, nor feel that I was treated differently from my colleagues.
Why? Because my focus was on me, my desire to stand out for the right reasons, over-performing, and consistently maintaining high professional standards.
What would I say are the key ingredients needed for a successful career transition?
ABC: Attitude, Belief and Commitment (I might add: Consistency, Diligence and EQ
Thank you to Leila for providing us with an in depth view of her career decisions and changes. Very inspirational.
If you liked this post then you may also like this post from guest author Didier Penine – ‘Going Self Employed’.
Look out for future blogs and tips for navigating a career change.